Vision of Peace (Isaiah 11:1-10)

At General Synod earlier this year, delegates to the gathering made resolutions to address many issues facing our nation and world, including the country’s growing opioid addiction crisis.  Delegates challenged local churches and conferences to recognize opioid addiction as a health epidemic and to partner with corporations, governments, and health care providers.

Even before the Synod resolution, Fusion United Church of Christ, an interfaith spiritual community in Piqua, Ohio, was already engaged in the fight.  After they learned that 310 people in their small town had overdosed on opioids in 2017, the faith community took a stand.  Working with the sheriff’s department, they became a host site for Project DAWN.

Project DAWN is a training program that teaches residents about addiction and the effects opioids have on breathing.  Students come away from the course not only with knowledge, but also with a nasal spray they can administer to a victim in the case of an overdose.  The spray can reverse the overdose, and help the patient live to receive addiction-recovery services.  The training is also an opportunity for fellowship, community-building and spiritual growth, as participants are also invited for a meal and a devotional time.

The path to addiction and overdose has many stops along the way.  Fusion UCC’s partnership with Project DAWN is just one way to combat addiction, but it is an important one.  Karen Tompkins Jamison, pastor of the interfaith community, says that not all the participants are drug users themselves.  The church has offered the training for teens who frequently come across parents who have overdosed.  She also notes that, “offering a meal is a way to deal with food insecurity in our area.”  One participant came just for the meal on a Thursday, ended up staying for the training and by Sunday she had used the training on a neighbor.

You can find out more about the Fusion community’s presence in their neighborhood by checking out their website:

Second Sunday of Advent–Prayer for Peace

O come, O come Emmanuel!  There is violence and dis-ease in our hearts and in our world.  Save us, we pray, from the brutality of war, and all assaults on our inner peace.  Remind us that you bring the peace that passes all understanding.  Help us to be purveyors of your peace, here and now and always.  Amen.


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Called to Gift (Matthew 24:36-44) World Aids Day

December first is World AIDS Day.  In the nearly four decades since we have learned about HIV, more than 35 million people have died of the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics the world has ever known.  On World AIDS Day, we remember those who have died of the disease, we demonstrate support for those living with HIV and AIDS and we re-commit to combatting HIV and AIDS.  Perhaps most importantly of all, we pledge to end the stigma that is still attached to a diagnosis of the virus.

UCAN is the United Church of Christ HIV and AIDS Network, providing Faith-based leadership for ending the HIV and AIDS epidemic.  According to the UCAN website* “Much progress has been made since we first learned about HIV more than 35 years ago and we have made it through some very difficult times.  We remember with thanksgiving those we have lost to this disease and for those who grieve, we pray God’s peace and comfort.  Although medical advances have made it possible to prevent HIV from attacking the immune system, saving millions of lives, we recognize that we have not sufficiently scaled up our responses to meet the need for prevention, treatment, care and support for all those living with and affected by HIV.”

One of the difficulties in fighting this disease has been, and continues to be, discrimination and stigma.  With treatment, people can live healthy lives with AIDS.  The first step to getting treatment is to get tested and diagnosed, but for many, stigma is a major barrier to testing.  Everyone can help knock down that barrier.

Today’s scripture reminds us of all that we do not know.  Jesus tells us that in most important ways, we do not know what the future will bring.  But one thing we do know is that we can help end the stigma of getting help for this disease.  We can all be tested for HIV and AIDS, even if we do not consider ourselves at risk.  Getting tested is one way that each of us can be involved in combatting and eradicating HIV and AIDS.

First Sunday of Advent–Prayer for Hope

O come, O come Emmanuel!  We look at the world and all its brokenness, and we are too often tempted to give up.  Grant us the audacity of hope.  Save us from easy cynicism and despair.  Remind us that while none of us can do all things, all of us can do some things.  Place before us the things we can do, and give us the courage to do them.  Amen.

*UCAN Call to Action.  Accessed July 24, 2019.

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CrossRoad Children’s Wish List


Greetings, friends in Christ!

If you were with us in worship on Sunday, November 17, you heard Kyle Zanker from Crossroad Child and Family Services speak to us about the children being served at Crossroad and their behavioral issues and their causes. Sexual and physical abuse, self-harming, trafficking, the opioid epidemic, have all contributed to many, many children with severe problems that need tremendous emotional support. These children range in age from 6 to 18. Many are autistic, have hearing or visual issues, physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, brain trauma, or other challenges. Crossroad’s success rate for helping these children to overcome many of their difficulties is amazing!
Kyle presented us with 20 “wish lists” from the children for Christmas. It is the desire of the Board of Christian Education that we use this opportunity to help these children; they are just kids who have had a rough start to life. We can help!
Will you please consider purchasing two or three items to help make a child happy? Bring them to the church by December 15 and put them in the bins at the back of the church. They are only kids who want what other kids want at Christmas. Let’s help bring them some joy!


Fuzzy socks (4)
Shoes (girls’ size 5) (women’s 6)
Shirt (girls’ L, M, XL) (Women’s S, M)
Jeans (girls’ size 10/12, 12/14, 7/8, 14/16) (women’s size 4, 6, 8)
Sweatshirt (no drawstring) (girls’ size L 14/16) (women’s size S, M)
Coloring book (4)
Colored pencils (3)
MP3 player (4)
Jogger sweatpants (girls 7-8, 14/16) (women’s 4)
Portable DVD player (5)
G/PG movie (2)
Art kit (8)
Lego set (4)
Paint and canvas
Shirt (girl’s size 10/12) (women’s size S)
Adult coloring book (2)
Friendship bracelet kit
Pajamas (women’s S) (girls’ size M, XL)
Sketchpad (non-spiral) (3)
Woodcraft kit
Journal (no spiral bound) (2)
Phase 10
Lip gloss
Any kind of board games


G/PG rated dvd’s (8)
DVD player (7)
Legos (4)
Pajamas (youth M, L) (Men’s M, L/XL)
Art kit (11)
Sneakers (Boys 11, 13) (Men’s 10.5, 9.5)
Books (2)
Shoes (boys 11, 13) (Men’s 10.5)
Clothing (youth M)
Nerf football (5)
Wallet (6)
MP/3 player (5)
Shirt (youth M)
Pants/jeans (boys’ 10-12) (youth M)
Sweatshirt (no drawstrings) (boys L) (adult L, M)
Soccer ball
Shirt (men’s L/XL)
Journal (no spiral bound) (3)
Model car set (3)
Color book (2)
Basketball (4)
Adult coloring book (3)
Sketch pad

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Together in Christ (Colossians 1:11-20)

Thanksgiving Sunday – United Black Christians’ Anniversary

A Prayer for Reign of Christ Sunday

Here is your throne, Christ Jesus, Lord of all.

It looks like a park bench on a drafty winter afternoon, whose only occupant is curled up asleep under the pile of paper and blankets.  It is You resting there, trying to find a few hours of rest before You are pushed out, told to move on.  Your reign is a home, where all gather in warmth.

Here is your throne, Christ Jesus, Lord of all.  It looks like an uncomfortable plastic chair, pulled close to a hospital bed. The room is quiet except for the hushed sounds of breathing and the steady pulse of machinery. Your hand is the one holding the hand of the sleeping patient. Your reign is a temple of healing, where all find comfort.

Here is your throne, Christ Jesus, Lord of all.  It looks like a scratched and graffitied desk in an impoverished schoolhouse.  The class is packed with too many students and too few resources.  And yet there You are, crowded into the back row, raising Your hand to ask yet another question no one can answer.  Your reign is a classroom for justice, where all learn that the last will be first.

Here is your throne, Christ Jesus, Lord of all.  It looks like a worn and polished pew on a Sunday morning.  It seems like there’s plenty of room, but the unspoken rules that govern who-sits-where are as strict as any commandment.  And there you are, plunking yourself down right in the middle, as if there are no rules at all.  Your reign is a sanctuary of hospitality, where all experience extravagant welcome.

We want to put you on a different kind of throne, Christ Jesus, Lord of all.  We want your throne to feel plush, to look shiny, to express might and strength. Instead, You!  Ruler of the Earth and the Heavens rest on a park bench.  You!  The king of Majesty recline in a hospital room.  You!  Messiah squirm in our country’s underserved classrooms.  You!  the Savior sit right here, right now, right beside me.

Where else will I see you, if only I look!  Amen.



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Fall Hours Begin September 8, 2019

Beginning September 8, 2019, and continuing until the first Sunday in June, 2020, Faith Formation classes will meet at 9:30 a.m., and worship starts at 10:30 a.m.

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This Week at St. John’s UCC

Centering Words for December 1:  Holy One, we wait and hope for your peace.  We live in the promise of your love.  As the days darken and the nights lengthen, light our way with your promised presence.  Prepare us to celebrate your birth, and guide us to create your kingdom on earth.  In hopeful expectation we pray.  Amen.

Sunday, December 1–Worship, 10:30 a.m.  Pastor Carol’s message is titled “Waiting, Watching, and Wondering”, and is based on scriptures:  Isaiah 2:1-5 and Matthew 24:36-44.  There will be a Hanging of the Greens service as well as dedication of the Christmas tree in memory of Reverend Donald Rock.  Holy Communion will be observed; Barbara and Mary Plaugher will play organ/piano Christmas duets during the worship service.

All are welcome to a time of fellowship in Oppermann Hall following the worship service.

December 3—-Ladies meet at LuLu’s, 9 a.m.; TOPS, 6 p.m..

December 4–Men meet at LuLu’s, 8:30 a.m.

December 5–Community dinner at the Senior Center, 6 p.m.

December 8–Second Sunday potluck following the Christmas cantata presented by St. John’s Choir.






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Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen

If you would like to volunteer for helping serve at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima on Tuesday,  November 26, 2019,  please sign up on the bulletin board in the sanctuary.  Helpers are always welcome.

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Facebook Page

You are missing out on a super way to advertise our church if you are not sharing with many of your other Facebook friends St. John’s Facebook page.  There are many interesting articles posted every day.  “Friend” all of your friends and ask them to “Like” the St. John’s page–let’s let people know we are here, alive, and moving forward!

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St Johns Snow

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This website can now be found at!

In an effort to make this site easier for you to access, it can now be found at!  You can still find this page using the old web address, but now it will be easier to tell family and friends where they can find up-to-date news about St. John’s UCC in Bluffton, Ohio.

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